Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

This Is Bad News?

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While blogging doesn’t seem an activity for presidential aspirants, John Kerry has one and I noticed this post from yesterday as I perused it this morning. While the comments section makes for a fascinating peek into the echo chamber, I was more interested in the premise. The author (DickBell it seems), leads off with this piece from the Washington Post (registration required). The title, “Bad News for Bush,” seems straighforward enough, and I almost passed on it, but the author of the WaPo piece, E. J. Dionne, Jr. is hardly a friend of the President. So it occurred to me that this might not be as bad as the Kerry camp hoped.

First there was this:

“President Bush took his big chance in Iraq without buying himself an insurance policy. He could have patiently built a coalition of the many — not only abroad, but also at home — rather than slapping together a coalition of the few, including the not-entirely-willing.” 

This is all well and good, but it’s hardly news. It’s also hardly fact. Saying a coalition of 37 nations is few, evaluating their ‘willingness,’ and – by use of the word patient getting the rush to war concept in there, Dionne is giving an opinion.

Bush also comes in for criticism for actually campaigning with a different idea from the Democrats: 

“On the campaign trail in September 2002, he characterized Democratic members of Congress who wanted a strong mandate from the United Nations — exactly what the administration is seeking now — as evading responsibility. “It seems like to me that if you’re representing the United States,” he said, “you ought to be making a decision on what’s best for the United States.” 

It seems to me that’s exactly right. Now there are those who wish to surrender our national sovereignty to some world body – the UN is most frequently held up as the model – but Bush isn’t one of them. Does one deride one’s political opponents by disagreeing with their positions? I mean, doesn’t John Kerry disagree with Bush? Or is it only when wrong-thinking conservatives disagree that something is wrong?

After suggesting Bush performed “masterfully” in the wake of 9/11, Dionne writes this: 

“Democrats were off balance, unsure of how to behave. Republicans recognized that the political ground was shifting in their favor. Rep. Tom Davis, the shrewd Virginia Republican, told me then that Bush had the chance “to reshape the image of the party from the top down.” At the time, it was possible to imagine the reappearance of something like Eisenhower Republicanism and a long-term Republican majority that would embrace 55 to 60 percent of Americans.” 

So now they like Ike? Poor Adlai – he can’t ever catch a break. But that isn’t it. This is a fantasy concocted in order to throw us off the trail. There was no possibility of the Democrats either joining in or permitting such a realignment. Far from being solidly behind the President, the left was already opposing action in Afghanistan. That Bush chose at that moment to defend the nation rather than to opt for political gain speaks volumes about the Commander-in-Chief. (Also note a Republican gets labeled “shrewd” for opting for just such gain. That speaks volumes about liberals as well.)

But this is supposed to be bad news for Bush, right? So why tuck this next paragraph into the piece? 

This President Bush put his potential opponents in a tough place. Sen. John F. Kerry voted to go to war, despite his doubts, because he didn’t want to seem soft on Saddam Hussein. Kerry has been explaining his vote ever since, and Bush supporters chortle over his various explanations.” 

Oh, so you can follow it with this: 

“So Bush got what he wanted — but at a higher price than he expected to pay.

For there is a cost to preemptive politics: Those who doubted your policies in the first place end up with no investment in them.” 

So John Kerry has no investment in the war he voted to support? Well, we knew that based on John Kerry, but why is Dionne touting it, and why on earth is Kerry’s blog pointing to it? It certainly makes Kerry appear like a calculating politician, hardly the “Real Deal.”

Next Dionne weirdly projects: 

“That’s why many Republicans are wishing this president had paid more attention to his father’s experience. Because the elder Bush took pains not to politicize the war issue, most of the war’s opponents returned the favor.” 

How’s that? I know no Republicans who are looking back at Bush the Elder – he lost the freakin’election dude – and not one of us is so contemptibly stupid as to think the opposition party would fail to grasp any weakness and fall on us like Dingoes – like they did with Bush the Elder.

After some rehashing of WMDs (didn’t we find some of those, or was it not enough? Wait, I remember, it has to be “stockpiles” before it counts), comes this piece of insight: 

“But at the moment, Bush is losing support among independent voters and has not nailed down moderate or even moderately conservative Republicans. Bush has signaled his own weakness by buying time on the Golf Channel, more a home to Republicans than to swing voters (except, perhaps, where the game itself is concerned).” 

This seems at odds with a recent Fox News / Opinion Dynamics poll showing 78% of Bushies “strongly support” the President. And do liberals not play golf? I mean, I could understand if it were NASCAR …

But, let’s not leave out the capper: 

“This is why Kerry has reason to hope that his identity as a Vietnam veteran can trump his history as a Massachusetts liberal.” 

Wow, John Kerry served in Vietnam. (I noticed a commenter on the blog noting that this was news to a lot of people and would certainly garner him “thousands” of votes.) So E.J. Dionne thinks that Kerry’s veteran status will trump three decades of Massachusetts liberalism and he thinks Bush is running scared. How are you running when the slim reed of presidential ambition rests on an unpopular war you ended up opposing and they caught it on tape?’


Written by martinipundit

June 1, 2004 at 10:49 am

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